There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

As we face uncertainty due to COVID, business leaders need not wait for “normal” to return, they need to take action now. “Normal” is not returning! Remember this is not an economic crisis as much as a public health crisis. Until we fix the latter, the former cannot recover. Given our failure at dealing with the latter, I think that we are going to be living in this uncertain state for the next 12 to 18 months. Thus by the time we emerge, behaviors adopted during this time will have become the norm.

While many companies have received PPP loans or are feeling comfortable with current orders, as economist Tom Cunningham pointed out so pointedly on a call on Friday, most of the government support is in the form of bridge loans; the problem is we don’t know how long the bridge needs to be. If we are going to be in this limbo for 12 to 18 months, the loans are not long enough, and many will not survive. Bankruptcies have already wreaked havoc on the economy and are not slowing down. State and local governments, which account for 60% of government-generated GDP, are in a terrible state and will be shedding workers and cutting services as they struggle to survive. The ripple effects will continue. Be prepared.

As I and many have pointed out, COVID is an accelerant. We are now five to ten years ahead in our industries, so are you positioned for such a place? Darwinism is not survival of the fittest, but those ablest to adapt to the new environment. Start adapting. Expand your market and potential client-based. Review processes to see if they can be more efficient.

Not only should you review your business, but also your personal life. COVID is not the flu, it is horrible, and those that survive will in many cases, not have an easy time going forward. Thus, look at your relationships with your parents, spouse, significant other, children, close friends. Are they where you would want them in five to ten years, and if not, make them so. The window to do so may not be as open as you think.

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